zondag 3 mei 2009

EU plans more energy competition

New legislation will target European energy giants in order to reduce the boosting competition in the market for supplying gas and electricity.

The package is already backed by EU ministers. It was adopted by the European Parliament last Wednesday. But it softens an original proposal to unbundle the control of big energy utilities over power generation and distribution. Producers will keep the control of grids and pipelines under supervision. The "ownership unbundling" drive was an initiative of the European Commission to liberalise the EU's energy market.

The commission was concerned about EDF of France and E.ON of Germany. Their domination of the market is limiting the opportunities for smaller firms to be competitive. France and Germany led opposition to the original plan, pressing for alternatives to breaking up the energy giants that dominate the market.

Full ownership unbundling is an option for governments. Governments will be able to choose for two alternative models, which let energy producers retain control of gas and electricity networks. EU member states can make energy firms hand over the management of their transmission network to a separate independent system operator (ISO).

Firms can also preserve integrated supply and transmission under the independent transmission operator (ITO) model.
The ITO includes a supervisory body with third-party shareholders. It includes also a compliance programme to prevent discriminatory actions in the market. EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said the compromise deal will ensure a market which is proper and honest for everyone. But Green MEP Claude Turmes said the legislation was not strong enough to contain the domination of the sector by oligopolies.

The BEUC European consumers' association was also disappointed. Their meaning: even if the new energy package offers more rights to consumers, these rights cannot be ensured without real competition and in particular without full ownership unbundling.
The package included measures to improve consumers' rights. Consumers will be able to change their energy supplier within three weeks, and free of charge. There will be an independent complaint mechanisms to settle disputes with suppliers. Consumers will also have the right to compensation for bad service, such as inaccurate or delayed billing.

I think it’s a good try to create a fair market of energy supply. But no matter what measures there will be taken, I think the competition in a market is something you can’t really provide. Everyone wants to offer his products as cheap as possible, in order to gain lots of clients. Sometimes, the service you get is less qualitative! But if I can get the same product of the same quality, I will certainly obtain for the cheapest solution. If the legislation of levelled pricing will be introduced, it’s really another case, and I think the best solution will be a fusion of all suppliers to offer the same product of a higher quality and with a better service!

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8013919.stm

Posted by Joachim De Zutter

Economy blows ill wind for renewable energy

The politicians all round the globe had promised that renewable energy would be the main issue of the economic recovery, but this year isn’t good for renewable energy.
A study that is made for the department for energy and climate change has showed that there could be built between 5000 and 7000 new wind turbines off the coast of Britain by 2020. These new turbines will generate 25 GW of energy.
Analysts were warning that the main issue in 2009 is a move from severe under supply to serious over supply.

In March there was the first big hurdle for wind. Shell, the oil company had decided that it was putting out of wind, solar and hydro power because it felt they were not economic. It said it would concentrate on cleaner ways of using fossil fuels.
There are other proves that it is not going well with renewable energy this year. BP has cut 620 jobs at its solar division, and Siemens has cut 400 jobs from its wind operations. Iberdrola hat cut its investments in renewables by almost half this year.

There are also projects that will be stopped. So is there the London Array, a project to build the world’s largest offshore wind farm in the Thames Estuary. The developers of this project went to the bank for a bailout, this puts the future of the project in doubt!!

According to me the financial crisis has also a negative effect on renewable energy. I think it’s logical. People and businesses aren’t very interested in renewable energy for the moment, they want to save as many as they can. They don’t want to invest in new projects. In this difficult time it’s obvious how people think about renewable energy, they don’t think it’s that important. I understand this situation, but I also know that if we don’t pay attention, this is not good for our planet. The people really need to start seeing that our world is in need of renewable energy.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/apr/28/economy-ill-wind-green-energy

Kevin De Pauw

Anger at plans for nuclear power station to replace wind farm

There is a chance that one of the oldest wind farms in Britain will be replaced by a nuclear power station. The wind farm is also known as one of the most efficient of the whole country. It is situated at Kirksanton in Cumbria. The proposals, proposed by the German-owned power group RWE, were made public and the government approved the plans for potential atomic newbuild. This infuriated the wind power industry.

RWE confirmed that they plan to build a new nuclear plant over there and that this could lead to the destruction of the wind farm, but this isn’t certain. There will be an overlap, but it could be that only a few wind turbines must be replaced.

I think that the government have to try to find another place for the nuclear plant. I’m sure that there are still plenty of places in Britain where a nuclear plant can work. A place where there isn’t already a production of green energy would be much better. I’m not sure if nuclear plants are a solution to stop the pollution of our world. Nuclear plants bring also waste. You can say that this waste is very little compared to the production of energy, but the waste is very dangerous for thousands of years and can be a big danger for living beings. So I still prefer wind farms, because I don’t consider nuclear plants as totally green.

Robby Lampens

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/apr/28/haverigg-turbines-nuclear-power-plant

Energy security fears a contract boost for UK Coal

According to the UK’s largest coal producer, increased fears over energy security has rallied demand for coal.

UK Coal has signed and extended new long-term contracts with the big four in electricity generation.

The shares in the group reached a two-month high closing up 8.8 percent at 115p.

For 2008, the company posted a pre-tax loss of £15.6 million, compared to £69 million profit the previous year, as the current economic climate has hampered the coal price.

The new contracts which have been signed amount to 36 million tonnes and have been signed at far higher prices due to the energy price fear, meaning that they are ahead of the current external marker as energy companies want the security of local coal and, in return, are willing to pay a premium for it.

The company expects the cash flow benefits from the contracts to be £85 million in 2009, with a further £15 million next year, as it plans to step up production, hoping to produce 8.3 million tonnes this year, compared to 7.9 million tonnes in 2008.

I think it's normal that there is fear in this periode of economic crisis. That is why energy companies want to be sure that they will have enough coal to produce their energy. So according to me it is normal that they are willing to pay a prenium for the coal.

It's logical when companies want to pay more for the coal, that UK coal will have a contract boost, which means that UK coal will also have better econmic figures.

Source: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/businessnews/Energy-security-fears-a-contract.5211995.jp

Dominique Van Huffel

zondag 26 april 2009

US power company to tap solar energy in space

San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) is planning to buy solar power beamed to earth from space, local newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Solaren plans to generate the power using solar panels in earth orbit, and then convert it to radio frequency energy for transmission to a receiving station in California's Fresno County. From there, the energy will be converted to electricity and fed into PG&E's power grid.

Under the purchase agreement, Solaren will deliver 200 megawatts of clean, renewable power starting from 2016. One megawatt of electricity generally is enough to power 750 to 1,000 homes.

According to Gary Spirnak, Solaren's CEO, a group of about 10 former satellite and aerospace engineers, was confident in the technology and timing behind the venture.
He also said that the science behind the orbiting solar farms was little different to that of communications satellites.

Spirnak said he was seeking in the low billions of dollars in investment. So he will face a difficult task raising funds for his project though, especially in this time of global economic recession.

It concerns here about a lot of money. So I think they have to be quite sure that they will produce the amount of green energy that they have put forward in the future. In order to have the investment back after a period of time.

An other aspect of this is to make sure we don’t bring more energy to the planet than it would naturally absorb. Otherwise, we end up with the same global warming problem we have with fossil fuels. And I don’t think that this is the intention!

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/apr/16/solar-energy-farms-space

Dominique Van Huffel

Winds of change blow for offshore power operators

Atmos Consulting did some research about the wind speed in the south of the UK. It is a fact that wind speeds around the coast of East Anglia and Essex have been rising, an unexpected fact of climate change. The consulting agency even said that wind farms over there can generate 50% more electricity than a decade ago due to the wind speed changes.

This is a great opportunity to build new, bigger and profitable wind farms in these areas. There are more than 10GW of offshore wind farms being planned. There are people doubting about wind farms, because of the huge costs. They will have to reconsider their opinion now, because more wind will lead to more money (bigger production of electricity).

There might be a chance that this news rescues the £3bn London Array wind-farm project. This project is in the outer Thames Estuary in the United Kingdom. Of 1 GW capacity, it is expected to become the world's largest offshore wind farm. The project was doomed to be cancelled, but the government will reconsider now.

I think this is a great chance to produce more green energy. The British people have to try to take the benefit of it, as much as they can. They will have to think good about the places of the many wind farms of course, because you can’t just start these projects everywhere you want. It is the first time that I found something positive because of the climate change. This change gives a big advantage and will lead to a greener production of electricity in the United Kingdom.

Robby Lampens

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/apr/26/offshore-wind-power

zaterdag 25 april 2009

Switch to renewable energy could save £13bn a year

A study has revealed that Britain could save £12.6bn a year in importing fossil fuels by 2020 if it joins on a new program of energy efficiency and renewable technologies such as wind power and biomass.

An international Energy Agency has calculated that with the reduce of North Sea oil and gas supplies, the UK will need to import 80% of its gas needs by 2020.

When looking to other countries, Britain lies far behind when it comes to deployment of renewable energy. Britain needs to get 15% of its total energy needs from sustainable sources by 2020. The experts say that this target will be very hard to meet, almost impossible.
The head of the REA stated that the British government is too busy with the cost of the investments of renewable energy. He said that this rapport shows huge and increasing savings for the UK economy, because there is e decrease of imports.

The Guardian revealed yesterday that the chancellor will announce an extra £500m of "green" spending in tomorrow's budget, of which £40m will be used to top up the Low Carbon Buildings Program, a grant system for renewables.
But the REA and opposition politicians say the extra money is too little to kick-start the sort of low-carbon revolution that Lord Stern urged countries to adopt to pull themselves out of the economic slump.

According to me this is a very important issue. I think the British government is afraid to invest in renewable energy because of the high costs. However they should realise that investing in renewable energy is very interesting. They won’t have to spend so much money anymore on imports of fossil fuels, and so they can save a lot of money. I think the return on investment is very important in this situation.

I also find it a little bit dangerous. If the UK has to import 80% of its gas that is needed, they depend on other countries. If for instance there is a war with a country that provides the fuels to the UK, what will they do then? That means that there is only 20% available for the people of the UK, and this is a risky situation.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/apr/21/renewable-energy-savings

Kevin De Pauw